My Personal Attitude To Organ Donation

Organ Donation Statistics

Every 10 minutes a new life is put at risk as they are waitlisted on the organ donation list. Dozens of others are condemned to death as they are denied a transplant because of availability. Today alone 79 people received an organ transplant. 22 others died while waiting for an organ that never came. In one years’ time, 2.5 million deaths were accounted for in the US alone from failure to receive a transplant. These statistics are often just viewed as numbers, yet we must remember that these numbers represent lives, people, family, a husband, a father, a wife, a child, a mother. On average each organ donor’s transplant can save up to 9 lives. Each life they save is another that will be able to add to the achievements of humanity.

Meet Timothy Brown. He is a normal man just like any other. Except he had HIV. He WAS HIV+. Yes, was. He is one of the only patients on the entire face of this Earth who has beaten HIV. Yet, his body did not fight it off alone. He was not given a miracle drug, nor was he magically cured. Instead, Timothy developed acute myeloid leukemia. After already undergoing treatments and popping what seemed like countless pills for most of his life, Timothy was shocked at his cancer diagnosis. HIV is a retrovirus that slowly weakens the immune system, lowering the white T blood cell count to demolish the immune system. Combined with the effects of chemotherapy and the cancer ravaging his body, he attracted diseases left and right, like a beacon. Timothy was put under treatment for sepsis, pneumonia, and thousands of other minor infections that a healthy body would be able to fight off with no problem on a daily basis. His doctors finally deduced that the normal chemotherapy methods would not work in Timothy Brown’s case because of his initial weakness. As his HIV came crashing down to full-blown AIDS, Timothy’s doctor suggested a bone marrow transplant. Donors were available, but his doctor was searching for CCR5 mutation bone marrow donor. A CCR5 mutation is found in one out of a few thousand people. This certain mutation causes white blood cells to become immune to HIV, and by association AIDS. Through the transplant, Timothy was able to eradicate not only his cancer, but also HIV. Nearly 10 years after the transplant, timothy is found to be not just HIV resistant or immune but HIV negative, a huge step towards his new life that he is living today, no longer a common visitor at the hospital, he is just another average Joe on the street. But take a minute to imagine if he hadn’t been given that bone marrow, if the donors had refused to allow this procedure. What would have happened to Timothy? More likely than not, Timothy would have succumbed eventually from AIDS, dying before he had the chance to meet anyone, before he had the chance to meet me. I attended one of his press conferences at the Timothy Ray Brown Foundation Fundraiser. As Timothy took the stage, I looked around. As he began his speech, his message began to flow, full of gratitude, full of thanks, full of life. Yet I found myself not watching the man, but watching the audience. Hundreds of spectators began to straighten their backs as the idea of such selflessness from the donor and the hope and man it created stood before them. The children that were dragged along to the convention were silent, captivated as well before some presence that they didn’t quite understand. Perhaps someone in the audience found themselves in a relatable position. Perhaps someone in my lifetime will find themselves in desperate need of an organ transplant. This is why. This is why organ donations are so important. We have the chance to save these lives, these ailing bodies, these people who were given the short hand in life another chance. Yet will we refuse to for fear that we will be less of a man or woman without an organ after death? That is why once I officially am able to, on my 18th birthday I will be rushing off to collect my birthday present. Not a car, not a shopping spree, and not a birthday party. No. I will be rushing off to earn the privilege of becoming an organ donor. I will hold myself to that promise that I have made. This is who I am. But I can be more. I have the opportunity to be more. When others are helped by me.

10 September 2019
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